Purdue vs Wisconsin
Two Big Ten teams that I have seen play a multitude of times this season. I have the same thoughts about the two teams that I had at the beginning of the Big Ten season, Purdue is a team that people should fear come tournament time and Wisconsin is a team dependent on Ethan Happ. If Happ doesn’t produce, Wisconsin is not in a good position to win any game that they play in.
Purdue has lost their last two games, but those two losses come by a combined 4 points against a Michigan State team that is a serious contender for a national championship and an Ohio State team led by Keita Bates-Diop, who has been an outstanding breakout player this season. Purdue is a team that has multiple weapons on the offensive side of the ball in Carsen Edwards, Vincent Edwards, Dakota Mathias, and Isaac Haas; all average more than 10 points a game. Vincent Edwards has shown he can be a facilitator when Purdue needs to get their offense going. He’s a very versatile 6’8″ forward that can step out and shoot the ball or drive and create opportunities which leads to a match up nightmare for opposing defenses. It’d be smart for Purdue to go with a bigger line up in this one against the undersized and less skilled Wisconsin team.
Wisconsin has been hit or miss this season. The only consistent player on their team has been Ethan Happ. Brevin Pritzl has shot the ball better recently and has compiled 15 points and 13 points in the past two contests. Brad Davison has stepped up in the absence of D’Mitrik Trice and contributed around 11 points per game to the Wisconsin offense. Davison will more than likely be using off-ball screens in order to get open for a spot up three in this game. Khalil Iverson has seen his minutes increase in recent weeks, but his production has dropped significantly. He was more of a facilitator than a scorer in the recent loss against Michigan contributing 7 assists, but only 2 points. The Badgers don’t necessarily need Iverson to score 20+ in this one, but 10 or more would increase their chances of not getting blown out in this one.
Keys to the Game
Purdue: Play big and stay big. Wisconsin is an undersized team and that’s what my attention gets drawn to every time I see them play. Purdue would be wise to utilize Haarms and Haas on the floor together early in the game to build a nice lead going into halftime.
Wisconsin: Just hope to get some rebounds and use ball screens to create open opportunities. They don’t have as much talent as Purdue and haven’t really shown any flashes of greatness this season. It’s been a mediocre season for the Badgers and it will probably continue tonight.
Purdue will win this game without an issue. They have more talent and will be more physically imposing on the glass than Wisconsin. The two game skid they are currently on will serve as more fuel to the fire against an inferior opponent.
Ohio State vs Penn State
These teams faced off in Columbus on January 25th, with Penn State walking away the victor in that contest. That game was truly a spectacle and some of the best Big Ten basketball I have seen this season, second only to the Purdue-MSU game just last weekend.
Ohio State is at the top of the Big Ten and is coming off a very convincing win against Iowa and a narrow victory against Purdue. Ohio State is playing good basketball after their loss to Penn State just 2 weeks ago. Penn State came away with a victory after hitting a three at the buzzer. Keita Bates-Diop has been incredible for OSU this yearOhio State will have to move the ball well and find a man to guard Tony Carr if they hope to change the result in this game.
Penn State has been on quite the run lately as well and have moved themselves into 6th place in the Big Ten. Tony Carr has burst onto the scene as a premier scorer. Carr will be essential to the success of the Nittany Lions in this game as he was in the last time these two teams met. Mike Watkins has been an imposing figure in the front court of Penn State. He’s averaging 9.5 rebounds per game as well as 2.5 blocks per game. The keys to the game for Mike Watkins are finding offensive consistency early on in the game and staying out of foul trouble. Watkins fouls heavily in some games and it causes him to go to the bench early. The Nittany Lions are a more complete team when Watkins is on the court.
Keys to the Game
Ohio State: Get Mike Watkins in foul trouble early and guard the three-point line. Penn State shot a staggering 78.6% from three-point range in the last game between the two sides. That was probably an anomaly, but getting a hand in the face of shooters will make that percentage dwindle to around 37.5%, which is what the Nittany Lions usually shoot. Getting Mike Watkins on the bench early in the game will allow Ohio State to use the paint to their advantage and not have to fear getting their shots swatted into the second row.
Penn State: Limit turnovers. In the last match up, they only turned the ball over 10 times as opposed to their usual 13. Penn State also forced 11 turnovers against OSU and were able to capitalize on the turnovers.
This is going to be a close game, but I think Ohio State will figure out the mistakes they made the last time they played the Nittany Lions and get a victory on the road. I really don’t think that Penn State can shoot over 75% from three in this game, so their offense will not be as effective. Look for Bates-Diop to have another big game and continue his quest to secure Big Ten Player of the Year.